Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth—the Lord God of hosts is His name. (Amos 4:12-13)
When Nations Do Not Listen To God
In the days of Jeroboam II, Israel experienced a period of social, economic, and cultural revival that brought unprecedented prosperity to the northern tribes of Israel. It was a false sense of security that settled over the nation because, in less than forty years, Assyria would destroy Samaria and take the people of the ten tribes captive. A sheepherder from Tekoa came to warn the people of the impending doom if they did not repent. Throughout the previous one hundred and seventy years, the Lord had sent His prophets to turn the hearts of the people back to Him, but without success. Every king that reigned over the northern tribes was wicked without exception. There was little hope as the hearts of the nation had turned to idolatry. With prosperity filling the land under Jeroboam, there was no urgency to turn to the Lord.
God sent His prophets to preach a message of repentance, but the Lord had also taken an active role in punishing the nation through His power. He had brought famine, drought, pestilence, plague, and destruction against Israel. In all their cities, the Lord took away their bread. He withheld the rain from the land. When there were still three months left to harvest, God made it rain in one city and withheld rain in another. In some places, it never rained, and the crops failed. People wandered from place to place, seeking water. Their gardens, vineyards, fig-trees, and olive groves were destroyed with blight and mildew, and locusts. Some cities were destroyed without cause. In all of these things, the people did not return to the Lord. No matter what the Lord brought against the people, their hearts would not turn to Him.
There comes a time in the heart of a man when repentance is impossible. As a nation, Israel had turned entirely away from righteousness, truth, holiness, and the desire to follow the word of God. When a nation turns its heart away from God, refusing to repent, judgment awaits. The cry of Amos was for Israel to prepare to meet their God. The Lord God of Hosts is His name, and He was coming with the firebrand of divine judgment. Assyria completely destroyed the northern tribes leaving no trace of their existence except in the seeds of the Samaritans, who were a mixed breed of Assyrians and Israelites. The Lord God brought the kings of Assyria against His own people as punishment for their refusal to repent. Amos warned the people to repent, and they did not listen. Israel was doomed.
The judgment of God against Israel demonstrated His will among the nations. As Creator, the Lord is the one who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals His thoughts to mankind. He turns the light of dawn into darkness and treads on the heights of the earth. There is no excuse for any nation to reject the workings of the Lord among them. While the events of Israel and the prophecies of Amos are nearly three thousand years old, the message of the Lord working among the nations remains. He continues to show Himself to the world as the Lord God of Hosts. Throughout history, the Lord has revealed Himself to nations as He did to Israel but to no avail. In times of national crisis, momentary feelings of religious fervor rise to the surface but never last. When the tragedy of 911 struck the United States, an immediate response of consciousness arose in the hearts of many people. Sadly, it did not last. With the pandemic of COVID-19, the world has seen the tragedy of disease that could have turned many hearts to God. Sadly, again, it has not happened.
National and world events should be markers of time to show the power and glory of the Lord God. Sin has brought the misery of disease, natural disaster, and death upon all mankind, but the hope to overcome comes only through the will of the Lord. Tragedy should not drive men away from God but draw them closer. In the case of Israel, it did little to change their hearts. For the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin, captivity came because of their rebellion but a remnant of faithful returned. The wrath of God brought repentance. Return to the Lord and seek Him. He is the only answer to face the trials and hardships of life. Nations turn to the Lord when the hearts of their people turn to the Lord. When men do not seek the Lord, the nation is destroyed. As the spirit of the American people goes, so goes the nation.